ELKINS — Digging and eating ramps in the spring is a traditional activity throughout Appalachia, especially in the gateway communities of Monongahela National Forest.
Forest staff often get questions about how many ramps the public may gather from the National Forest for their personal use.
Collecting ramps for personal use is permitted on Monongahela National Forest. Personal use is defined as 2 gallons per person in possession at any one time, about the amount that fits in a typical plastic grocery bag.
This equals about 180 whole plants, including roots and leaves. Individuals may not collect ramps on behalf of someone else. The Forest Service does not permit any commercial harvesting of ramps in Monongahela National Forest.
The Forest Service encourage people who collect ramps in the Forest to follow these guidelines to ensure abundant ramps in the future:
• Collect ramps only in patches with more than 100 plants.
• If you find a patch that has already been harvested, move on to another area.
• When collecting ramps from a large clump, take only one-fifth of the plants. Leaving behind the majority of the plants will allow them to mature and go to seed, and the patch will recover faster.
• If digging bulbs, use a soil fork or a small hand trowel and a knife, rather than a large shovel. Shovels disturb the root system of neighboring ramps and other plants much more than these smaller tools.
To dig ramps, loosen the soil with the soil fork or hand trowel and use the knife to cut the ramp roots beneath the bulb.
• After you dig up a ramp, cover the bare soil with leaves. This will reduce the likelihood of invasive species taking root.
By following these guidelines for harvesting ramps, collectors can ensure that their children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy ramps for generations to come.